Date: 1 June 2023 Author: Kinga Szurc

Armenia Formally Recognizes Karabakh As Part of Azerbaijan After Years-Long Conflict

Ethnic Armenians and Azerbaijan have long been engulfed in a territorial dispute over the mountain enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh. The United States, as a Minsk Group co-chair country alongside France and Russia, jointly led Minsk Group activities to advance the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict before Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022.


For a century, the conflict has flared over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, a predominantly ethnic Armenian enclave nestled back then within the borders of the Azerbaijan Soviet Socialist Republic. The clash over Nagorno-Karabakh was reignited in the late 1980s as the desire for separatism grew in Armenia. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Armenia launched a military campaign against Azerbaijan that lasted until a ceasefire deal was reached in 1994. However, no country ever recognized Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent state. For years, conflict simmered between the republic and the authorities in Baku.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan agreed to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan at a meeting of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in Moscow on May 22, 2023. Consequently, Armenia and Azerbaijan are moving towards a settlement to their decades-old conflict over the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. Aliyev denied that Baku has any territorial claims against Yerevan. “There is a possibility of coming to a peace agreement, considering that Armenia has formally recognized Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan,” he said ahead of talks. Pashinyan said the two countries were “making good progress in normalizing relationships, based on mutual recognition of territorial integrity.”
“There are still unresolved questions, but in my opinion, and we discussed this with our Azeri and our Armenian colleagues, they are of a purely technical nature,” Russian President Vladimir Putin was quoted as saying. Putin said the two leaders as well as the Russian deputy prime minister were soon meeting to coordinate further action. In 2020, Azerbaijan seized control of areas that had been controlled by ethnic Armenians in and around the mountain enclave and questioned Armenia’s internationally recognized borders. In 2021, Yerevan also accused Azerbaijan of occupying a pocket of its land. Nagorno-Karabakh’s military on August 1 accused Azerbaijani forces of launching attacks on its positions. Further clashes erupted in mid-September when Azerbaijan began targeting positions in Armenia.

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